Because Abby Queen can now have grown up listening to Hamilton, and I spent way too much time thinking about this last night, when I should have gone to bed.
First of all, TWENTY FIFTH ANNIVERSARY REVIVAL. It’s the summer of 2040 and Abby is thirteen, and Hamilton is getting revived and her father hasn’t even seen it.
“Dad, Hamilton came out in 2015, you really have no excuse for not knowing about it.”
“No, I’ve heard of it. It’s that rap-musical about Alexander Hamilton.”
And Abby is personally offended, because it’s so much more than that, so she recruits Mom and they convince Dad to sit down one night and watch the show with them. (Because this is the future, and in the future you can buy filmed versions of musicals with the original cast, and of course the Queens have Hamilton on file.) And by the end of it, Dad is doing the thing he does when he gets sad. He’s really quiet, and he pulls Abby into his side and nods, kisses her forehead, and they both pretend his eyes aren’t watering. Mom sings “Helpless” around the house for the next couple of days, and she and Dad get kind of gross and cute about it, so it’s actually a little bit of a relief when that peters out.
Jonny is surprisingly easy to convince, when it’s all said and done. She just needs to play the OCR around the house until the songs get stuck in his head, and then challenges him that she’s got more of the Cabinet Rap Battles memorized than he does. It’s barely two days after that before he starts dropping in on her with Jefferson’s lines, and really, she just has to refute him.
She brings it up at dinner one night. “So Hamilton is being revived for the 25th Anniversary this fall.”
The show will be touring in a year, and they can get tickets when it finally comes to Starling like they do with all the other shows Abby wants to see, but. It’s Hamilton.
Mom grins. “I’m game. Oliver?”
But Dad was nodding along before Mom even finished the question. “Let’s make it happen.”
“Hold on, you guys are just going to fly to New York without me?” Jonny looks more than a little indignant.
“You want to come with, Jon?” Mom asks.
“Why wouldn’t I want to go to New York? Besides, I can drop by Gotham while we’re there, if we have the time, and anyway–I want to see the damn show, okay?”
It’s kind of hard for Abby to stop grinning for the next day and a half.
They get tickets for opening night, and they make a week of it. Jonny does spend a few days in Gotham visiting Terry, and Abby and Mom spend a lot of time shopping, and they do all the corny touristy things with Dad that he secretly loves, the Statue of Liberty, Central Park, MoMA, even a tour of Carnegie Hall.
On the night of the show, Abby is over the moon, and she doesn’t think there’s anything that can bring her down. Jonny wears a tie without complaining for once, and they head out into the cold for the Ham4Ham preshow. The crowd is already thick when they get there, so Jonny grabs Abby’s hand and wiggles his way through to the front.
The man who’s playing Alexander Hamilton greets everyone–(”Ladies and gentleman, you could have been anywhere in the world tonight, but you’re here with us in New York City.”)–and thanks them for being here, and then he says, “I’ve got a surprise for you guys tonight,” and taps on the stage door, and Lin-Manuel Miranda walks out.
The world goes a little blurry, and Abby blinks her tears away furiously while Jonny squeezes her hands so tight it hurts.
Miranda thanks everyone again, and goes on to talk about how grateful he is for everyone who helped make the show what it is today, from the cast and the crew of every show to the audience and everyone who bought the album, and how he never could have imagined, in 2015, that they’d get to where they are today. And then he says, “And I’m very happy to report that, thanks to an anonymous donor, everyone attending today’s Ham4Ham will be receiving a ticket to the show tonight.”
The crowd erupts in applause, but Abby just shares a look with her brother. They glance behind them, and Mom and Dad are standing together at the back of the crowd, smiling innocently.
The show is amazing, but Abby expected nothing less. The cast goes above and beyond, and it’s one of the best performances she’s ever seen. After the final curtain call, everybody’s a little misty-eyed, and Jonny’s all huffy and swiping at his eyes.
It goes down as one of their better family vacations.
Three years later, after their mom gets kidnapped and Jonny takes up the hood, and Uncle Roy, and Tish, Abby doesn’t have all that much to get excited about, anymore.
But she can’t help thinking about Phillip Hamilton, who was far too much like his father, who was so proud that it killed him. She wonders when Jonny’s finally going to underestimate his enemies, practically waiting for the day that he isn’t fast enough, or strong enough, or smart enough, when it’s all going to catch up with him.
She thinks about Uncle Roy.
Who lives, who dies, who tells your story.
But that’s not even the worst part, is it? No, the Hamilton men died, but at least they were remembered, at least they were heroes. Aaron Burr was forgotten. Aaron Burr, who couldn’t decide what he wanted until it was too late, who was waiting in the wings to slip into any character he needed to become, who wanted to badly to be part of the action that he threw it all away when he couldn’t handle living in Hamilton’s shadow.
He survived, but he paid for it.
She survived, and she pays for it.
Or worse, she’s not Burr, she’s Peggy. Not as smart as Angelica, or as kind as Eliza, relegated to the background until she just disappears entirely, only to be replaced by a seductress who fits all too well into their household.
(Here’s what Abby doesn’t get yet: she thinks she’s at the end of the story, that the roles have been cast, that her future’s already set in stone. But she’s wrong, she’s just at the beginning. She’s Hamilton getting on a boat to America, she’s the Schuyler sisters walking down the streets of New York City, she’s a fledgling nation on the brink of collapse, tumultuous and divided, waiting until it finds its footing before it stands up and marches forward.)